As consumers, and connoisseurs, of personal jurisdiction precedent, we were interested in the latest turn in Thalidomide-related litigation in Pennsylvania. You can see our prior posts about the former – and extremely time barred – personal injury litigation, here and here. The personal jurisdiction angle was mentioned more recently in a 360 (that is, paywalled) story here entitled “Hagens Berman Wants Thalidomide Client’s Suit Out Of Pa.” The article discusses a legal malpractice suit filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Because the plaintiff is from Minnesota, and the defendant law firm is based in Washington State, the defendant claims there is no personal jurisdiction. However, the law firm defendant made the decision to file the now-dismissed lawsuit that underlies the current malpractice action in Pennsylvania.
Having read more personal jurisdiction cases over the six years since Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014), than we care to count, our gut reaction was that the “arising out of”/”related to” test for specific jurisdiction (for more about that, see here and here, among many others) would be satisfied by the presence of the underlying lawsuit in the jurisdiction where a subsequent legal malpractice action was filed. Indeed, it’s hard to describe this set of facts without using the phrase “arising out of.”
So we decided to take a look. A Westlaw search of federal cases for “legal malpractice” /p “personal jurisdiction” pulled up 152 cases. That seemed a little excessive for this exercise, so we limited it with “specific /s jurisdiction”.
That didn’t take long. The second case we looked at answered the question quite thoroughly:
Case law throughout the country supports this conclusion. To support their respective positions, both parties cite to a number of cases (often the same ones) involving out-of-forum attorneys being sued for malpractice who allege lack of personal jurisdiction in the forum. Though personal jurisdiction is a fact-specific inquiry, and no two cases are identical, a thorough reading of all these cases reveals a common theme: where the legal malpractice claim is filed in the same forum as the original action serving as the predicate for the legal malpractice (or where it would have been filed), jurisdiction is found. . . .
Dennett v. Archuleta, 915 F. Supp.2d 248, 253-54 (D.R.I. 2013) (citations to nine cases omitted) (emphasis added). That’s the answer.